The Fish Sniffer - Big Weights Highlight Kokanee Power Lake Shasta Team Derby On May 3 & 4
Big Weights Highlight Kokanee Power Lake Shasta Team Derby On May 3 & 4

Written By: Cal Kellogg, May 16, 2014
Species: Kokanee Trout
Location: Shasta Lake,

Big Weights Highlight Kokanee Power Lake Shasta Team Derby On May 3 & 4

Our goal for the first day of the annual Kokanee Power Team Tournament at Lake Shasta was to land a four fish limit of trout that weighed a minimum of 8 pounds. Typically a two day total of 16 pounds or more will land your team in the top 25 and if you get lucky enough to land a big kicker fish you might just find yourself in the winner’s circle.

With a solid 5 or 6 pounds in the Rogue Coastal’s livewell Paul Kneeland and I pulled into Centimudi Cove. We’d caught big fish in the cove in years past and we were hoping to hook something that would push us over the 8 pound mark.

Paul spooled out a pair of Excel Spoons while I did the same with a rigged shad and a watermelon Apex. With the offerings working behind the boat, we steered toward the eastern corner of the dam and then cut hard along the rip rap lined bank. We’d covered 200 yards when Paul’s shallow rod got buried and a beat later a big chrome bright rainbow flew out of the water, splashed down and proceeded to go absolutely nuts.

The fish fought like a steelhead, jumping, head shaking and surging off on wild runs. Paul was using an ultra light Cousins Tackle downrigger rod teamed with a small Daiwa baitcaster. As I cleared the other rods, Paul slowed down the boat and kept the pressure on the fish.

It took a couple minutes for Paul to inch the fish to within 20 feet of the boat and that’s when things got really tense. We could see the rainbow’s green back and broad sides. The trout looked to be 19 to 20 inches long. It was just the fish we were looking for, but the trout did it’s best to stay just out of net range.

When it did finally move within range of our long handled Ego S2 net it kept it’s head down and I refused take a shot at it and risk knocking out the hook. After what seemed like an hour, but probably only amounted to a few seconds the rainbow made a mistake and boiled to the surface.

 I drilled the net into the water beneath the trout and lifted the exhausted battler aboard. The 20.5 inch square-tailed rainbow weighed in at well over 2 pounds. We had our 8 plus pound limit, now the question became how well the other anglers had done on the day?

As we stepped into the weigh in line at the Bass Hole Bar and Grill just before the 5 pm cutoff time, I was thinking that Paul and I would be somewhere in the top 20 in perfect striking distance of the top if we were fortunate enough to have a good day on Sunday.

Well, when I’m wrong I’m really wrong. When I started chatting with other anglers that had been at the weigh in station for a while I learned that a lot of big fish in the form of king salmon and brown trout up to and beyond 5 pounds had come to the scales and that the day one leader had registered four fish that weighed an impressive 14.1 pounds!

To be in the top 25 you had to weigh more than 9 pounds of fish and to be in the top 22 you had to have more than 10 pounds!

After the Saturday night Kokanee Power Banquet at the Lake Head Lion’s Club Hall, Paul and I, along with James Netzell, Danny Lloyd, Steve Fistler, Bruce Wicks, Al Fisk, Dave Barsi, John Brassfield, Robert Bundy and the rest of Team Fish Sniffer returned to our cabin at Tsasdi Resort and discussed the day’s results.

Dave Barsi and Steve Fistler were setting in 17th place after day one, while Fishing James and Danny Lloyd were setting in the 7th spot and John and Rob were in 11th place. Dave’s team and James’s team had weighed three big rainbows and one big king respectively while John and Rob rode the weight of four big ‘bows.

With unstable weather moving in on Saturday night, we knew that the conditions would be different on Sunday and that the leader board would be shaken up significantly. Success would be determined by how well your team dealt with the changing conditions.

When all was said and done, Paul and I weighed about a pound less on Sunday than we had on Saturday, James and Danny had tough luck on Sunday and only weighed about half the weight they did on Saturday. They’d done well for not having fished Shasta much in the past, but the light limit on Sunday dropped them out of the top 25 and out of the money.

The big story for Team Fish Sniffer on Sunday was the performance of John and Rob. They started out the day hammering away at the husky rainbows they’d found in the Sacramento Arm. With several good rainbows in the box they ran to the main body in search of a kicker salmon. John and Rob readily admit that they don’t have much experience chasing land locked kings, but that didn’t stop them from pulling a 3 plus pound kicker king out deep water on an Apex.

When I chatted with John at the ramp as we headed to the weigh in, he told me that Rob and he had more weight then they had on Saturday I knew things were going to be very interesting back at the Bass Hole!

When the results were revealed we learned that John and Rob had moved up from 11th place to 6th place…the best finish ever in the spring derby for Team Fish Sniffer. Good job guys!

The top spot in the derby went to Sue Brown and Ed Grossman. I can’t think of a team that deserved a win more than they did. They’d been fishing the event for a dozen years. The duo weighed a two day eight fish total that went 25.22 pounds! Sue had nailed all the team’s kicker browns while rolling shad in deep water.

Ronnie Britshigi took the second spot with 24.06 pounds, while the team of Will Miller, Mike Vaianat, Paul McLean and Garret McLean hammered down the third spot with 23.28 pounds.

In the kids division Brayden McAllister took the top spot. Jacob McAllister was in second and Ty Collins rounded out the top three.

Ronnie Britshigi got the biggest king of the event at 5.23 pounds, while will Miller’s 7.77 pound brown was the biggest trout.

All of us at Team Fish Sniffer would like to thank Kokanee Power, the Bass Hole Bar and Grill, Tsasdi Resort, Sugarloaf Cottages and all the good folks at Lake Head for making the big spring derby a success. We can’t wait for next year!

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